Smart Recycling Tech Makes Sustainability Easier than Ever

Blog post author
Ross Malpass
November 15, 2021

Over the past fifty years, increased consumerism has fueled the transition to a throwaway society. Instead of purchasing long-lasting products, consumers are turning to cheaply made items that they use minimally, often only once.

This trend is seen predominantly in the fashion industry, where garments are no longer manufactured with quality in mind but with seasonal utility only.

Unfortunately, this trend has taken a toll on the sector – it is reported that the global fashion industry produces more than 92 million tons of waste per year, with the United States generating more than 17 million tons of textile waste annually. Now, consumers and retailers are starting to demand change. 

To help combat growing concerns about waste in the fashion industry, Ombori has introduced smart recycling technology with the hope of making sustainability easier than ever. And the results are in: The company's innovative solution – along with others – is transforming the customer experience while also bolstering hope in the future of our planet. 

Ombori: Focused on Sustainability 

Ombori delivers Grid Solutions designed to integrate the physical and digital worlds. It offers businesses the ability to "create memorable customer experiences, streamline omnichannel operations, and manage visitors using customizable, no-code solutions."

Among Ombori's most popular products that deliver sustainable solutions are the following:

  • Queue Management: This solution has removed the need for paper ticketing and instead offers customers the option to join a virtual queue, thus reducing the frustration they feel when faced with long lines. 

  • Digital Signage: Ombori Digital Signage allows companies to replace paper signs. This solution can be used across industries to reduce the use of one-time paper products, such as menus, informational brochures, and location updates.  

  • Omni Visit: Geared toward meeting the needs of both in-person and online customers, Omni Visit promotes digital interactions to reduce wasted resources associated with appointment management. 

  • Wayfinder: Leveraging digital signage, Wayfinder is an interactive, voice-activated map that allows customers to download directions to their mobile device. When combined with other Ombori solutions, including Appointment Booking and Web Kiosks, Wayfinder provides visitors with directions to the location of a selected product or a meeting.  

Ombori Smart Recycling Bin

The most recent tool offered by Ombori is the Smart Recycling Bin. Ombori, in association with Microsoft and ITAB, has developed this solution by integrating an interactive screen with a scale to weigh donated items for recycling. The bin offers visitors the opportunity to recycle unused clothing, earn rewards, and become educated about the benefits of recycling, all while providing businesses real-time updates on recycling efforts.

The bin was designed for businesses focused on meeting their sustainability targets, specifically retailers, municipal collection sites, tourist attractions, and resorts. The bins can collect many different types of recyclable goods, including clothing, metal, paper, glass, and plastic. 

The first Smart Recycling Bin was placed near the checkout area of H&M's flagship store in Manhattan, New York, and the feedback has been promising, thereby securing the continued use of this technology. 

H&M and Ombori: Testing Smart Recycling Bins 

Ombori's Smart Recycling Bin has been the perfect complement to H&M's Garment Collecting Program, which launched in 2013 "as part of [the company's] long-term commitment to reduce its environmental impact and support the Paris Agreement. [H&M] is targeting a 'Climate Positive Value Chain by 2040', meaning it will make greenhouse gas reductions beyond its own value chain that are greater than what that ecosystem emits."

In 2020, H&M worked with Ombori to boost its recycling program by installing Smart Recycling Bins in its stores, including the Manhattan location. Ombori Group shared, “With the help of Microsoft Azure and partner Ombori, H&M reimagined its garment recycling program in the U.S. with new “smart” recycle bins outfitted with an Ombori digital screen that serves up discount codes and engagement opportunities.” 

The bin consists of an interactive screen and an integrated scale that accepts and weighs clothing donations. Here's how it works:

  1. A customer brings clothing from any brand and in any condition to donate at an H&M location.

  2. The donations are deposited in a Smart Recycling Bin equipped with an Ombori digital screen running on Microsoft Azure.

  3. An integrated digital scale automatically weighs the donated clothes.

  4. The screen displays how much was donated and summarizes the total amount of clothing collected via the bins, both at the local H&M store and other stores nationwide.

  5. The screen displays various pictures, social prompts, and a voucher or discount code to reward customers for their donations. Donors can share their experiences on social media and receive a 15% discount on their next purchase from H&M.

  6. Donors can scan a QR code to access online information about H&M's sustainability initiatives and other measures the brand is taking to reduce its environmental impact.

Furthermore, the “bins are integrated with Microsoft Teams, allowing staff to be notified via mobile [device] or smartwatch when they need to be emptied. The clothing is then collected, and its material is reprocessed before being spun into new garments. In addition, for every 50 pounds of clothing collected through the program, H&M plants a tree via its partner One Tree Planted."

Meeting New Consumer Demands

Sustainability is one of several trends supported by today's shoppers. Indeed, consumer values – specifically those associated with shopping and the retail industry – have dramatically shifted over time. Previously, shopping centered around convenience and budget. Today, however, consumers are placing more excellent value on the big picture rather than instant gratification and are taking sustainability practices into consideration when choosing to shop a brand. 

Forbes magazine recently reported the following trends in consumer behavior:

  • Today's consumers are more sensitive than ever to the state of the environment.

  • Today's consumers are motivated to act in support of sustainability.

  • Today's consumers feel empowered to champion brands that promote sustainability. 

As a result, shoppers are drawn to businesses that support a sustainable mindset and are willing to pay more for their products and services – roughly 17.5% more, according to Forbes

Ombori Solutions: Benefits for Businesses

Not only do Smart Recycling Bins promote a more sustainable retail experience for customers, but also the integration of other Ombori solutions is financially beneficial for businesses worldwide. These solutions have been proven to achieve the following financial results.

  • Increasing revenue and streamlining the purchasing process: Ombori solutions can reduce queue abandonment by up to 60% and increase impulse purchases by 25%.

  • Increasing efficiency and productivity: Ombori technology can automate routine tasks, freeing staff to focus on other revenue-generating tasks. It can also minimize missed appointments, thus ensuring optimal use of staff time.

  • Increasing customer loyalty and satisfaction: Happy customers keep coming back to retailers. Ombori tools can reduce perceived wait times by up to 40% and increase net promoter scores (NPS) by up to 40%, thus driving customer loyalty.

  • Improving strategic planning: Ombori solutions can provide accurate data on customer behavior, enabling businesses to make informed decisions.

Ombori works directly with businesses to help them identify and customize solutions that are right for their operations. In the past, the company has collaborated with Target (Australia), Ace Hardware (Dubai), Dufry (Spain), Andermatt Ski Resort (Switzerland), Town of Cary (USE), in addition to the multiple projects it has worked on with H&M. By leveraging innovative technology, Ombori, and its partners are propelling the future of sustainability across numerous industries.

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